Pulling up to the Barrow Food House is a bit jarring. The parking lot feels industrial and I wonder if I am even supposed to park here. I walk in the back door, expecting to be the only customer (it was 11:30 a.m. on a Friday), but am surprised to find a few occupied tables and one seemingly regular at the bar. I join him there.
The bartender/server comes over to greet me and hands over a menu. A quick scan — many of the options surprise me: carrot kimchi, spaghetti squash latkes, fried chicken sandwich. It feels like modern comfort food.
I decide on the spaghetti squash latkes and the bean and mushroom burger (I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m forgoing meat for the next *checks watch* 38 days for Lent). I sit back and take in my surroundings. The standalone building’s interior is covered in dark green wallpaper patterned with orange flowers or are they carrots? The bar outlined the very open kitchen where staff cut up large chunks of beef or pork. Hanging plants obscured the window light. My fellow bar patron was raving about the falafel, a menu item to come, which is how I decide he must be a regular.
Many people come in through the back door while I wait, the same door I used. Despite the modern aesthetic and industrial vibes akin to a Brooklyn loft, most of the clientele seemed to be of early retirement age.
And then, my food arrives. Served cafeteria-style on a tray, the latkes come on a paper plate. Their dark orange organic shapes lay on a bed of something creamy and white and are topped with red looking sauce. One bite and I’m in love. I slice my fork into their crispness and out topples the glossy spaghetti squash. The applesauce is tangy, reminding me of sweet and sour sauce. The creme fraiche is cool, and the dance of textures between the crunchy, fried exterior and the gooey-ness of the squash is delightful.
I switch gears to my veggie burger, which I’ll admit I was skeptical about. But the seedy bun and layers of bright colors are tempting. I take a cautious nibble and again am surprised. The burger is crunchy and tangy, made with a combination of black bean, mungbean, quinoa, mushroom, poblano and cotija cheese. The carrot kimchi that was atop is sharp, tamed by the avocado and cashew crema. The woman I sat next to said it best: “This food just tastes like home.” I would never make anything like this at home, but it was still homey food.
As I finish up the last bits of my meal (I ate everything, in case you were wondering), I take in the entertainment in front of me. Three kitchen workers weave in and around each other in the exposed kitchen. Griddles and fryers crack and whistle and sizzle to the music. It was dinner and a show.